Rafael Nadal clinches record-extending 11th French Open title
11 Junio, 2018, 02:12 | Author: Thomas Hicks
Nadal dealt with that ultimately minor inconvenience and claimed his record-extending 11th French Open championship Sunday by displaying his foe-rattling excellence in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem.
He led by two sets plus a break early in the third, when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it.
Nadal called on the trainer to get his forearms massaged twice in the final set but even that problem failed to improve Thiem's chances of emulating fellow Austrian Thomas Muster's 1995 triumph.
The world number eight is also one of just three men to have defeated the 17-time Grand Slam champion three times on his favoured surface in total, but he had no answer to the 32-year-old's relentless pressure on Sunday.
Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final.
"Physically I enjoyed more watching him on the couch", smiled Thiem, who was 11 years old when Nadal won his first French Open in 2005.
The Austrian pushed Nadal hard early on but his spirit appeared crushed when the Spaniard won his service game to love to secure the first set, going on to win 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Nadal is now the fourth man in the Open Era to win three or more Grand Slams after turning 30, having won his third since turning 30.
But Thiem, unusually standing up to Nadal's first serve, forced two break points in the next game and converted the second with a flashing forehand into the right corner.
In a 10-minute second game of the second set, Thiem suffered more trauma.
Thiem wasted a break point in the seventh game as Nadal collected a time violation for taking too long to serve.
"It's fantastic, I can't describe my feelings because it's not even a dream to win here 11 times", said an emotional Nadal after the final.
Nadal enjoyed a fast start to the encounter, winning the opening six points on his way to going 2-0 up in the first set.
Nadal struck 26 winners to Thiem's 34 yet made only 24 unforced errors to Thiem's 42, with "unforced errors" a relative term in Nadal Roland Garros matches. A forehand wide. A forehand into the net. Any hopes of an upset all but disappeared along with the ragged Thiem forehand which sailed way beyond the baseline. Another forehand victor from Nadal followed, and this time Thiem looked up toward his coach and yelled. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him, so he changed into a fresh one at a changeover, drawing catcalls from spectators.
Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this.
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There's not much room for errors here. "We're laughing about it because at one point that's the only thing you've got to do". But he admitted that will it be hard to edge out his rivals due to the similar speeds between the front three teams.
Rafael Nadal faces Dominic Thiem for his 11th French Open title
The Spaniard also won the title without losing a set, becoming the third man to do so in the Open era after Ilie Nastase and Borg. Rafael Nadal seeks an unprecedented 11th French Open title when he faces No. 7 Dominic Thiem in Sunday's final at Roland Garros.
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